Fair Labor Standards Act Q and A

  1. If a custodian travels from school to school and takes a lunch breaks in route, how can the employer make sure the custodian is being compensated accurately for all time worked?

    You must have an honor system. The employee’s uninterrupted meal time is not compensable (uninterrupted meal times must be at least 30 minutes). Once lunch is over, if the employee resumes driving in order to get to the next school, the time counts as hours worked. You could have the employee call in at the beginning and end of the uninterupted meal time, if they have a cell phone.
    **Submitting false records is a criminal offense in North Carolina.

  2. If a custodian school A at 11:30 a.m. to drive to school B, and then returns to school A, is the drive time compensable?

    Yes, both drive times are compensable.

  3. If an employee takes work home (even if the employer knew nothing about it), is the time compensable?

    Yes, the employer must let the employee know not to take work home in order to avoid overtime pay. The employee can be let off early on Friday (not over 40 hours in a week).
    **If employer knows the employee is taking work home, the employee, must be paid.

  4. If an employer allows an employee to come in early, sign in and drink coffee, is the time compensable?

    Yes, unless the employer directs the employee to go to a break room, not sign in and drink coffee until the work hours begins. Have the employee sign in only prior to starting the workday hours.

  5. Time Sheet — What opportunity exists for rounding off?

    You are allowed to round to the nearest ¼ hour greater than 15 minutes. For example 7:50- 8:00, can be rounded to 8:00. Have employees sign time in/out accurately. When the employer performs the time sheet calculations, an allowance is made to round to the nearest ¼ hour.
    **Do rounding at the end of the week.

  6. If a teacher assistant is also a bus driver, and if hours worked in either job is less than 40 hours per week, is overtime pay due?

    Teacher Driving Bus – exceeding 20 percent of work time is non-exempt
    If the combined total hours worked exceeds 40 hours, even if the hours were les than 40 in each separate job, overtime must be paid using the average pay between both jobs.

  7. How long must an employees lunch hour be?

    Lunchtime must be at least 30 minutes, but FLSA will bless a mealtime that equals 20 minutes. Wage/hour – meal period must be at least 30 minutes long. Employee should not clock out for mealtimes less than 20 minutes. Working any during lunchtime or if the mealtime is less than 20 minutes, the employee must be compensated.
    *There are circumstances where the Department of Labor will accept a lunchtime of less than 20 minutes.

  8. Can the work week be defined for 40 hours per week and employees (teacher assistant) be allowed to only work 37.5 hours?

    Yes, the work week can be defined as a 40-hour work week, with employees only being required to work 37.5 hours. By defining the work week as 40 hours, the employer can request the employee to attend meetings or perform other work, and as long as the extra time is up to 40 hours, there is no overtime pay required. However, the hourly rate must equal the federal minimum wage rate requirements of $5.15.

  9. How often should employees be trained on FLSA regulations?

    Employers should conduct FLSA training annually. The employer should
    also have employees sign a receipt of FLSA policy, as well as a statement that
    they have been trained on FLSA guidelines.

  10. If an employer sends emails to an employee at home, and the employee opens the email, is the employer liable to pay for this?

    Yes, unless very, very little time is used (a few seconds). It is considered compensable (especially if employee begins to do background or preliminary work in response to the email). Employers should not send emails to employees at home because some people could be very slow to read and close the email. The employer will be liable for the entire time it takes to read and close the email.

  11. Recordkeeping — If automated recordkeeping (via the computer) is used for signing in employees, how does the employer avoid keeping hard copies for signature requirements?

    There is no signature requirement by FLSA; employers are only required to keep accurate records. Note: It is a criminal offense to sign (falsify) records; therefore, it may be necessary to keep hard copies.

  12. Training (Travel) — How do an employee account for overnight hours for conferences and/or training?

    If travel occurs during the normal work schedule, then the time used is hours worked and is compensable.

    Outside of work schedule — not compensable
    Hours at training — considered work hours
    Travel back — same applies

    **Exception – If riding (outside of work hours) time is not compensated. If told to drive (outside or not during regular work time) – considered work and is compensable.

  13. If conference training has activities not work related (dancing, etc.), is the time compensable?

    If the activity is not part of the job requirements, then it is not compensable.

  14. Can a teacher assistant volunteer to work in their child’s classroom?

    If duties performed in the volunteer capacity are the exact same duties as regular work hours, the time is still considered hours worked.

  15. Can an employee decide when to use compensatory time?

    The employer is in control of the use of comp time. However, the employer cannot allow compensatory time to accumulate and prohibit employees from the opportunity to take time off.
    Exempt (salaried) employees cannot accumulate nor use comp time.

Prepared by Marge Foreman, NCAE research specialist